Filipinos know firsthand how adaptable and versatile coconuts are. Its fruit can be consumed in a variety of ways: coconut juice for drinking or fermenting, coconut meat to be eaten fresh on its own or as a topping, and coconut milk to thicken both sweet and savory dishes. But are you curious about what happens to the parts we can’t eat or will eventually need to discard? Do people just throw most parts away, or have we figured out more ways to use even coconut waste sustainably?
We’re passing on to you a little knowledge about the typical forms of coconut waste and how coconut farmers, agricultural entrepreneurs, coconut milk suppliers in the Philippines, and other professionals in the industry are dealing with these waste products. Below is our quick survey of what common coconut waste or byproducts are, some creative ways to use inedible coconut parts, and why the Filipino market can afford to be environmentally-friendly with coconut waste.
The different components in coconut waste
The old saying goes that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and indeed, there’s treasure to be found even in inedible coconut parts and coconut waste. The coconut husk, the outermost part of the coconut that comprises 40% of its mass, is made up of 30% fiber. The husks contain cellulose, lignin, pyroligneous acids, tannin, and potassium, among others. In addition, the coconut dust that settles around the shell is bacteria- and fungi-resistant.
With these components, coconut husks and shells are viable sources of biomass fuel, and can be made into charcoal. That same type of activated carbon can also be used in wastewater treatment and purification processes, as the coconut shell’s micro-pores efficiently trap contaminant particles in water. Coconut coir, or cocopeat, can also be added to organic fertilizer and is noted to improve oxygen circulation for plants.
These resources are very accessible to most people, many of whom already make edible products from their coconut crop.
Creativity with coconuts
You might already know of how people have extended the life of coconut products such as coconut water, coconut gel or nata de coco, virgin coconut oil (VCO), coconut butter or shortening, coconut flour, and desiccated or canned coconut milk. Coconuts have also become a popular natural ingredient for items like soap and skin cream.
But there are infinitely more ways to mitigate the inedible waste and, moreover, turn a profit from it. The husk and fibers from the coconut can be used to make everything from hydroponic bricks, rope, and netting to sturdy door mats, handicrafts, and even musical instruments.
Coconut byproducts and the Filipino market
Suffice to say, there’s a lot of opportunity here for Filipinos to employ sustainable coconut waste management practices and even make a profit from it. Many coconut entrepreneurs might choose edible and cosmetic products to anchor their business in. But at the same time, they may also find various livelihood opportunities in processing and ‘recycling’ what many people think of as waste products from coconuts.
This decade, coconuts have seen a resurgence in the market for healthy and natural products. Perhaps it would be great to take it a step further by exploring sustainable and environmentally-friendly ways of dealing with coconut waste and proffering golden business opportunities out of them.
If you’re looking for a place in the coconut industry, it’s worth a shot to learn more about where your coconut residue goes and see how coconut waste management can fit into your business plan. Nothing should go to waste, and that’s how we feel about the delicious, nutritious, and multipurpose coconut!